Spring 2006, somewhere off the coast of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The strong smell of diesel fumes mixed with sea water was surprising. The boat rocking over the waves was too. The pounding in my chest with anxiety and trepidation was both startling and totally unanticipated. This was my first certified dive. Mr. Confidence scared of the water?
The water has always been one of my dearest friends. I do not have a memory of when I was taught to swim, but the old joke goes that my brother and I had just learned to walk the week before. My memories of my entire life were surrounded by my profound love for water. Whether it was getting up before dawn for swim practice, jumping off cliffs and riding waves in the large irrigation canals that wove their way through the valley I grew up in, or swimming in various lakes and oceans throughout my life, the water has always been home. (Well there may have been a slight set back when my dad took us to the movie Jaws). I always knew I would eventually become certified as a Scuba diver. Heck my parents were certified in the early 1970’s and did their open water check out in the Rifle gap in Western Colorado. The timing just never seemed right; life just kept getting in the way. It was not until a cousin of mine was getting married in Mexico that we seized upon the opportunity. So my brother and I, accompanied by our significant others, took the plunge and became certified divers. That very first moment in the pool I knew I had found my passion.
On the flight back from Mexico from our first diving trip I began to try to figure out how I could get back into the ocean. My only deep and lasting regret was that I waited so long to become certified. My fear that I had experienced that first day on that diesel smoke-filled boat had evaporated instantaneously the moment I was greeted by the ocean floor. This was nature at her very finest; an environment of constant change and incredibly varied beauty. My moment of fear was forever replaced.
It seems now as I look back that it was almost the very next day that we were at the local scuba shop looking at new gear and trying to figure out how we could expand our knowledge. Our evenings were spent discussing our next trips, our next training, and our next adventure. I looked at the world with a new found wonder and joy that I thought not possible.
My wife Jessica and I wanted to be the best divers we could. Becoming Master divers was the next logical step in our development. I was happy and content knowing that my skills had grown and my comfort levels were improved. I thought I had reached my goal of what I wanted to do, I thought I had reached the apex of what I wanted to accomplish. Boy, I could not have been more wrong.
Frankly, when we were asked to come to the PADI Go Pro night, I was not even sure what it was. By that time we were spending a significant amount of time at Joe’s Scuba Shack anyway and rarely missed an announced get-together. I knew I wanted to see our friends, share some stories, and just be around people who shared our passion. But within seconds of hearing the presentation I knew. I knew that my life would again be changed in the most unexpected way possible. Be altered in a way that surprised me to my very core. I would become an Open Water Scuba Instructor.
Since that night at the Scuba Shack, our lives have been transformed so unexpectedly. Our immersion into the PADI system has been fantastic. The training, knowledge-gathering, and fulfillment of the requirements to reach the stage we are now in has been an absolute blast. It is now with nervous anticipation that we prepare for the Instructors Examination.
These simple yet profound decisions have given us opportunities and possibilities I never thought probable or possible. Soon we will have the ability to open hearts and minds to the great hidden wonders of the water. To be able to change others as we were changed making our lives so much more rewarding.